Spelling Tips: Cancelled vs. Canceled
  • 2-minute read
  • 22nd June 2023

Spelling Tips: Cancelled vs. Canceled

English can be a tricky language to learn, and that’s why we write these blog posts!

Spellings can differ between countries that use English as their main language: the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia are among those that have their own quirky little ways.

Read on for help deciding when to use cancelled and when to use canceled. You can apply the same steps to other words that end in the letter “l.”

What’s at the End of the Word?

When the last two letters of a word are a vowel followed by “l”, such as in cancel, and we want to add a suffix that starts with a vowel, standard British English doubles the “l”:

cancel becomes cancelled

But this is not the case in American English:

cancel becomes canceled

Australian English follows the British rule in this instance.

We might add a suffix beginning with a vowel for several reasons, including to change the tense of a verb, to produce a comparative or superlative adjective, and to derive a noun from a verb.

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Do the Rules Apply to ing Endings Too?

Yes, and they apply to er, or, and est endings as well because these also start with a vowel.

And Do Other Words Behave This Way?

Yes, other examples are travel and counsel. The general doubling up rule and its exceptions can seem quite complicated, but our blog about it makes it easier to understand.


To help you decide whether to use cancelled or canceled (and how to handle other words with similar endings), ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which version (or dialect) of English you are writing in?
  2. Does your word end with the letter “l” preceded by a vowel?
  3. Does the suffix you want to add begin with a vowel?

If you can answer “yes” to the last two questions, and if you’re writing in standard British (UK) English or Australian English, double the letter “l,” then add the suffix you need.

If you’re writing in American English, leave the letter “l” as a single “l” and add your suffix.

The English language can seem complicated. If you’d like an expert to check your writing, Proofed can do just that, so follow the link.


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